Friday, November 8, 2019

Kotas Reviews Cinnamon Coca-Cola

The soda flavor explosion continues to spread. So many different flavors of soda are coming out that I simply cannot keep up with them anymore. Also, I really shouldn't drink so much soda. Still, some products demand that I review them by their very existence. In fact, I didn't believe this was an actual real thing. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's take a look at Cinnamon Coca-Cola.

I honestly thought this was a joke product.
I first heard about this when a friend gushed enthusiasm about it. I initially dismissed it as mistaken naming, but I was soon corrected. Turns out, Cinnamon Coke is a thing and this person loves it. It was not until I saw it at my local lunch spot in the cooler that I truly acknowledged that it could exist. I mean, Pepsi Fire was a thing for a while. Could this be Coca-Cola's answer to that crappy product? Why would they want to duplicate failure? Still, whatever. Let's rock and or roll. The can is expertly designed. It's a Coke can, with some minor additional graphics and text to inform you what is different from regular Coke on it. Very understated, very cool. Let's crack it open.

Well, it looks like Coke. This will be good for pranking I predict. I mean, "spicy" soda just isn't really my thing, but we strive onward for Science. Oh. Oh no. I was completely wrong about this. This isn't spicy soda. This isn't spicy soda at all! The makers of this soda clearly took inspiration from the sweeter side of cinnamon than the spicy, as instead of being hot, this soda has the cinnamon that you find in a sweet roll rather then that of a Red Hot. Oh man, it compliments the cola flavor perfectly too. I think I love this soda! I need more.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 3 Smileys. Holy shit this stuff is delicious. Put it in your drink chute immediately, then buy more and use it as a mixer. I have to stop myself from drinking this constantly and I think I like it at least as much as, if not more than, regular Coke. Get it. GET IT NOW!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Kotas Reviews the Nostalgia Hot Dog Toaster

As I age ungracefully, I find myself wisting for the days of my youth. When things were simpler, food was less fancy, and bills never loomed as an ongoing concern. A time of fireflies and lemonade. A time of Saturday Morning cartoons and Ralston movie themed cereals. You know, the 80s! Anyway, nostalgia is big business as of this, oh, past decade. You see it in clothing trends, TV show revivals, and weird movie sequels. One place I did NOT expect to see it was in kitchen appliances and gadgetry, but well, here we are. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's take a look at the Nostalgia Hot Dog Toaster.

Helpfully labeled so you know what idiotic thing you just purchased!
At some point in recent history, the "retro-future" look came into style. You know, sleek smooth curves with random raised stripes, fins, and all that Zeerust crap you saw on 1950s sci-fi magazine covers. Eventually this trend trickled down to things like mixers, coffee makers, and of course, the humble toaster. So naturally this eventually landed in the world of the "single use appliance". You know these things: quesadilla makers, egg boilers, bacon cookers, and all that other crap that people get to make a single thing convenient but it ends up just wasting time and space over regular pans and utensils. My granddad used to LIVE in this space, and his garage was full of these dang things. Enter the Hot Dog Toaster.

I first saw this as a link on some social media site, and I was instantly smitten. It is one of the most impractical devices ever conceived of by people, and it looks straight out of a 1950s kitchen. It cost about as much as a decent meal out, and hey, I've spent more on worse things, eh? What a glorious excess for my house! As you can see I went with the simple "two dog" model, though they make bigger ones that can cook 4 at once. It even toasts the bun! But, how does it work, really? 

An all American horror classic, really.
Turns out, it's mostly impractical but fun. There's a little wiener cage to hold the dogs in place, though they still kinda flop around. The bugs do go in, but ya gotta kind of, how you say, stuff them in? It's not a graceful appliance that's for sure. Still, does it actually work? The answer is "Yes, but..." As you can see above, the hot dogs do get cooked, though they tend to blacken a bit. The buns act much the same way, they get toasted, but there is always this rime of burnt carbon along the edge. To top it off, it's an absolute bitch to clean, though the removable drip tray and hot dog cage help with this. 

On the FACE Rating System, I give this a qualified 0 Faces. I personally love it as an art piece, but as a practical gadget it falls way flat. There are easier ways to warm ya dogs than this thing, especially in bulk. Still, I appreciate a good art object and everything it represents is hilarious and wonderful. I will certainly use this to make hot dogs again. I just wouldn't ask anyone to clean it for me. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Kotas Reviews Trader Joe's Pumpkin Tortilla Chips

Well, it's definitely Fall for real now. Its coming was heralded by brisk mornings, having to dig out your jacket, and pumpkin spice flavored everything. It also leads to more gatherings where you can sit outside in comfortable clothes and nice weather. In fact, it was one such party which is directly responsible for the review you are about to read. A co-worker's spouse noted I had a blog, and a few days later I was presented with today's subject, courtesy of that lovely person. I am certainly not one to refuse such a humble request, and this item intrigued me. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's take a look at Trader Joe's Pumpkin Tortilla Chips.

Trader Joe has been hitting some weird shit lately.
Ah, Trader Joe's. They are the little gourmet grocery store that sort of can, since they carry a lot of what I would term 'quirky' foods and not very many mass market name brands. Still, I do love to get food from there is generally tasty. Fun fact, they are owned by Aldi's, which has been making some strides into my local area. Small world, eh? Whatever. Trader Joe's is known for its many many MANY self branded foods many of which have quirky names: Trader Joe Ohs being the name of their cereal brand. They also carry Charles Shaw wine, or "Two Buck Chuck" which is a cheap way to get wine drunk, even if it's more than two bucks these days. That brings us to today's offering.

The packaging is fairly plain, as is common for Trader Joe's stuff. Got the name of the store, the name of the product, and a photo of the actual product on the bag. Nothing too fancy, but I like honesty in packaging. These look like heavily spiced chips, and I predict they are sweet. Let's open it up!

Well, they aren't much to look at.

I'm not sure why tortilla chips needed ground pumpkin seeds added to the flour, or why it needed cinnamon and nutmeg spicing, but here we are in all our confusing glory. The scent upon opening the bag is distinctly Not Sweet, though there a touch of nutmeg and cinnamon in it. I guess they aren't meant to be sweet? The flavor is pretty much "corn chip", but with some extra nuttiness from the pumpkin seeds used and a subtle bit of nutmeg and cinnamon. There is zero sweetness here, but that's okay, it's mostly just a corn chip. The flavor isn't bad, it's just not particularly good either? It just sort of is. Corn chip with accent, if you will. I did like that on a few of the chips you can see fairly large pieces of pumpkin seed, so it's got that going for it.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 0 Faces. They are, in a word, chips. Eat them plain or with salsa if you like tortilla chips, avoid if you don't. The cinnamon and nutmeg flavors are there, but not really strong enough to make an impact. Much the same can be said for the pumpkin seed portion. It's there, but it's not spectacular, it's merely okay. Try them, or don't. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Kotas Reviews the Impossible Whopper

Hello Everybody! It's been a while since I wrote here about stuff, but work's been a bear and the things I am reviewing are taking a lot longer to properly consume. Still, I did find some time for something interesting. In fact, I know a lot of people who are banking on this being the hot new trend. But, you know, we'll see, won't we? Ladies and Gentlemen, let's take a big ol' bite out of the Impossible Whopper.

Two all beef patties special sauce wait a sec...
Burger King was never my favorite fast food place growing up. Sure, they had the better quality food products, but as a wee lad I was more about the toy that came with the meal than the meal itself. As I got older, I came to appreciate the Whopper as a much better alternative to the Big Mac, but apart from their onion rings, Burger King's other offerings were "okay" at best. These days, the idea of 'flame grilled' sounds better than it used to, though I do not often indulge because Burger King is inconvenient to me. So how did I end up looking at this burger?

Road trips are not uncommon for me, and ever since Wendy's changed their fry supplier, I've been looking for better road trip food. This most recent trip my buddy convinced me this would not only be a good idea, but a fantastic idea. I admit that the whole concept of the Impossible Burger intrigued me, so I agreed to the meal. 

Impossible Foods was founded in 2011, and the Impossible Burger was initially rolled out to relatively upscale restaurants starting in 2016. In 2018, it started selling at White Castle, and the big push now is with Burger King, and the Impossible Whopper. Then there's little ol' me, picking up a Whopper just to see what it is like. Let's find out.

Yup. Looks like a Whopper all right.
Well, upon unwrapping the burger, it definitely looks like a standard Whopper. It mostly smells like one too, though there's a hint of nuttiness that is different. The taste? Well, on one hand, it's a Whopper. It's decent, as far as fast food burgers go, but it ain't fine dining. On the other hand...oh man, it tastes like a burger. Now, it doesn't taste exactly the same as a Whopper, but if this had been wrapped in a regular Whopper wrapper, the only thought that would have crossed my mind is "Huh, I guess they changed the seasoning or something." I even tried a bit of the burger by itself with nothing on it. It IS different from the beef patty in a Whopper, but not by a lot. It's a Whopper, and the quality ceiling on a Whopper isn't high, but damn if this basically fulfills that space. 

On the FACE Rating System, I give this Two Smiley Faces. Not so much because it is a Whopper (which is a decent yet unexciting fast food burger) but because this meatless Whopper very closely resembles the meat-ful Whopper. If every fast food joint suddenly switched to these type of patties, I bet most people wouldn't care. Damn fine job Impossible Foods. Now, figure out how to make me a steak and we'll be in business!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Kotas Reviews LucioOhs

It is a new golden age of cereal production, I think. There are literally hundreds of brands of cereal, and almost every type now has at least two or three variations of it. There are 15 types of Cheerios, wait, 16. Blueberry just got released it seems. Anyway, what is generally lacking is a vast assortment of licensed cereal properties. Oh sure, the occasional Limited Edition run of something like Star Wars will pop up for a few weeks when the movies are released, but Ralston cereals were on the shelves for YEARS, only changing the packaging as things were released. So imagine my surprise when I saw a new cereal on the shelves...and watched it remain for months, rather than weeks. Ladies and Gentlemen, today we look at LucioOhs.

Oh, Overwatch. Since its release in 2016, Overwatch has become a global phenomenon in the video game world. It brought a polish to the team shooter not seen since Valve was still making video games and has ridden a wave of success ever since. It's got a huge eSports scene (funded heavily by Blizzard Activision), brings in loads of cash with its loot box system (which it popularized), and has inspired a particularly ridiculous amount of pornographic fan art. Now it's also a cereal I guess?

Well, the box art is on point for sure. This is some classic early 90s style promotional cereal artwork right there. Lucio is one of my favorite characters from Overwatch, so I'm glad to see him get some spotlight. I do have to question the actual name of the cereal. Lucio-Ohs? Really? That's like a parody name, what with the double O construction. Luci-Ohs would have been cleaner. But who cares about that, let's get to the cereal!

I'm honestly surprised they didn't go with a chocolate flavor. It's for the best, really.
The cereal itself looks a lot like Froot Loops. It smells heavily of vanilla, and that is also reflected in the taste. The coloring is just for looks, being Lucio's primary skin theme of green and yellow. It's very sweet, but not tooth hurtingly sweet. The vanilla and corn flavors go quite well together. Hey, this is pretty good! You really don't see too many takes on the vanilla flavored cereal, so it is nice that this does it well. I think I like this. Huh!

On the FACE Rating System, I give this one 2 Smiley Faces. You might even say that this is my jam, at least some of the time. I even picked up a second box, and since my kid loves it, probably a third. If you like vanilla, and really want it in a sweetened cereal unmarred by other flavors, this is the cereal for you. Just don't expect it to help you actually be good at Overwatch.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Kotas Reviews Hardee's Froot Loops Doughnuts

As the father of a 1st grader, fast food restaurants feature prominently in our regular "going out to eat" rotation. I'm not proud of that fact, but my child genuinely enjoys going to various fast food joints to eat mass produced culinary crimes against humanity. To be fair, so do I as my regular reader can tell you. Thus whenever a new "gimmicky" thing comes about, I do my best to give it a whirl. Especially the desserts. Ladies and gentlemen, let's take a look at Hardee's Froot Loop Doughnuts.

Gloriously colored!
It's no secret that I love doughnuts. This blog has a number of doughnut related entries over the...7 years I've been writing here. Further, I also love a good bowl of cereal, enjoyed as a dinner experience as often as it is breakfast. So when Hardees announced they were putting these two things together, I rushed right out and...totally missed the first time this was offered. In August of 2018, this item hit the streets and I...didn't. I couldn't tell you why I didn't immediately seek it out, since I happen to enjoy Froot Loops, but it didn't happen. Luckily for me, one of my friends tipped me off that it was headed back to stores and lo and behold, I was finally able to find it again! My gain is your...gain? I guess? Whatever, onto the review!

A less flattering arrangement.

Sadly, my local Hardees did not put these in the special box that were advertised, but I'll be honest, it is precisely the kind of box you'd expect Froot Loops doughnuts to come in. Opening this inferior yet still serviceable box I was immediately struck with the overwhelming scent of Froot Loops cereal. Boy howdy did they get that right. The flavor of each doughnut, while they look like they should be different ones, is exactly like a doughnut laced with Froot Loops flavoring. Each color tasted the same as every other color, just like real Froot Loops. I mean, it is truly amazing how they distilled that flavor into doughnut form. However, the doughnut portion of this is where it kinda falls apart. For it does taste of Froot Loops, but it tastes of STALE Froot Loops. I don't know if it is endemic to the whole line or just my particular serving, but these were not soft and delightful doughnuts. They were instead stale, crumbly doughnuts that also carried a perfect Froot Loop flavor. The mouth feel is of eating stale bread, and not great, despite the overwhelming sweetness of the Froot Loop essence. They were, at best, "okay". 

On the FACE Rating System, these get 1 Frowny Face. Kudos to Hardees for being able to absolutely replicate the smell and flavor of Froot Loops for a doughnut, but 50 DKP minus for the doughnut itself being completely sub par. I think that if these were fresh, they would be much, MUCH better. If you think your particular outlet of Hardees/Carl Jr's would have them fresh, definitely try them. If, like me, you have no confidence in this fact, don't bother. Just go eat a box of Froot Loops and weep for what could have been. 

Friday, July 26, 2019

Kotas Reviews Shades of Nightfall

Hola peeps! Been a while since I rapped at ya, but the summer has been very good at keeping me distracted from what is really important: Bitching about products! Luckily, today I bring to you something particularly interesting. It's not even food! Ladies and Gentlemen, today we take a look at Shades of Nightfall.

It almost matches my coffee table!

It's not really a secret that I enjoy the Dungeons and/or Dragons from time to time, along with other games in that genre. I've been a fan of this style of gaming for...well, probably around 3 decades at this point. As such, I was immersed in this subculture during the Great Gaming Shift of the early 90s, which saw a minor revolt against the stodgy tables and charts of old school RPGs and led to some new, more story based games. The bannerfolk leading this charge were the people of White Wolf, with their legendary game Vampire: The Masquerade. It seems sort of trite now, but the focus on storytelling and getting into your character's head being not only allowed, but actively encouraged in the rulebook was a breath of fresh air that did in fact revolutionize an industry. Coupled with the darker, more mature themes it was a huge success and spawned sister games such as Mage: The Ascension and Wraith: The Oblivion, as well as numerous imitators and rip offs. It was kind of a big deal is what I'm saying. From this torrent was also released one of the first mass market rules sets for a new fangled type of role playing: Live Action Role Playing. Mind's Eye Theater was born, and with it its own host of imitators and rip offs. Our journey today takes us deep into the heart of someone's idea of "I can do better". Let's open the book on Shades of Nightfall.

I've been LARPing for two decades (man that is depressing to think about) though the vast majority of my experiences were outside of the type of game we have today. Shades of Nightfall is solidly in the realm of the Salon style LARP, played in night clubs, warehouses, and even people's homes. If you are interested in more detail about LARPs in general, and the different types, I'm not going to get in depth on those topics, so you might seek out more information. Heck, you might even find a game near you! Still, let's do a bit of setup. The Mind's Eye Theater rules are a streamlined version of the White Wolf Table top system. You have Attributes like Strength and Wits rated in "dots" that are ranked from 1 to 5 dots, and Skills like Driving or Medicine rated in the same manor. To overcome challenges that require use of on character sheet stats (as opposed to ones you can just "do" is Live Action Role Playing after all), you entered into a series of "rock-paper-scissors" challenges against your opponent (or a referee if it was against 'the world') where more "dots" overall gave you a greater chance of success via "more tries". However, it is absolutely possible for someone who has super amounts of "dots" to fail miserably because they always throw "rock". Some people don't like that. And then they go and write their own system. With Blackjack! And Hookers!  You know what, forget the blackjack. So...Shades of Nightfall.

From a production standpoint, this book is pretty good. The glossy cover, while not fantastic, is definitely on the higher end of mid 90s small print run work. The pages are clear, with some typical "90s edgy" line art. You know, the kind where the boobs are only "just" covered by vines or a moon or whatever, but there's tasteful blood and such too. For a presumably small print run, Shades of Nightfall is slick. Published in 1995, a full 2 years after Mind's Eye Theater, you can definitely tell that it is "in the style of, but oh so unique from" the World of Darkness as presented in that line of books. This will probably been the last nice thing I say about this book. Hold onto your butts folks, it's gonna be a bumpy ride.

That's some high quality 90s rulebook boobage right there.
Shades of Nightfall takes place in a Reality darker than our own, called uh...the Dark Reality. Totally not a world, perhaps made of darkness. No siree Bob. Within the Dark Reality, many supernatural beings make their way in the night: Vampires (covered here), Fallen Angels, Witches, and Ghosts. This is of course very different from other worlds that have vampires, werewolves, mages, and wraiths. Very different. Mostly because characters in Dark Reality don't have nearly as many stats! Characters in the Dark Reality (at least, vampire characters) are defined by their number of Dynamic Power Points. Mere mortals might call this a "Build Total", but DPP are what we call it here. The other big stat is Current Dynamic Point Total, or CDPT, which is a measure of health and well being, and starts off equal to DPP at every event...I think. Anyway, what do you do with all those DPP? Why, you buy Powers! Supernatural Powers. SO MANY FUCKIN' POWERS Y'ALL.

So, powers are grouped up based on a 5 x 5 grid that consists of five different...areas of influence I guess? Maybe just "relatively logical groupings"? Jeez. The list is: Imperceptual (sic), Beast, Mind & Heart, Storm, and Shadow. Whatever. Each square on the grid represents a combination of these areas like Storm and Shadow, or Mind & Heart and Imperceptual, resulting in 20 combinations and 5 "pure" areas where each one matches up with itself. Within each block, there are 5 levels of power (Circle, Triangle, Diamond, Heart, Star), and three sub ranks within each power: Blue, Red, and Black. Honestly, the Blue and Red are just white and grey in this black and white printed book. Only 49 more shades to get some crap eroticism to add to your crap world building! Did I mention the world building? No? Because THERE ISN'T ANY, or rather what is there is generic and boring, with only a few scraps of interesting stuff amongst the Gothic Dark Darkness. But I'm getting off track. Each power must be purchased in sequence, with all sub ranks of a particular level purchased before opening up the higher levels. Powers gain boosts called, amazingly enough, "gains" based on the number of higher level powers of that sub rank you have. So, if you have the Blue Circle power of, say, Mind & Heart and Shadow, you can invoke Sudden Fear, which means your target cannot act against you (or someone you designate) for the duration, but if you also have the Blue Triangle power in this line, you gain a longer duration and another use per day. Other powers merely widen the types of targets you can affect based on the number of "gains" you have. All told, there are 375 individual powers. No, that isn't a typo, there are 375 distinct powers, ranging from "grow claws" to "put someone in a vortex of emotion permanently, so that they will always and forever hate or love a thing you choose". Yeah, I'm gonna need more booze.

These powers, presumably, are meant to emulate various "traditional" powers of the vampire from lore and myth (and other, better games) but man there are SO MANY that are so WEIRD. One power lets you summon shadow creatures that act as your minions, and have a DPP total of like, 1/4th of yours. Did I mention this is FUCKING LARP? And a Salon Style one at that! I want to know what vampire myths have the Lord of Darkness over there summoning Shadow Mooks based on his or her own power level! I'm sure there are some, but I don't think it works out too well at a damn Larp! This whole section (most of the book, really) smacks of someone having a great idea of how to organize stuff and then really stretching to fill out a power list. This could have been heavily chopped down without really impacting play I feel. It has a lot of options, which I guess is nice but I personally found it ridiculous and overwhelming. You get 30 DPP to start. That's enough for 2-3 powers at most. And you have access to 25 to 75 distinct powers to pick from, many of which lead to interdependencies that make little sense. Why does having ranks in Beast & Nature let you be immune to a Mind Control power? Dunno, balance? There are a lot of this kind of thing too, where having a specific power from one path makes you flat out immune to a specific power in another path. It's confusing and kind of boring to pick through.

There is a bit of world building, but most of it is meh. Typical "supernatural society actually rules the world" stuff that's Totally Original, but also barely touched on. Vampire society is given a bit more space. So, each Vampire generates around themselves a "Zone of Supernatural" called the Knowing. This is pretty tiny at first, but as they get more powerful, and/or join up with other vampires, this area increases. A pack of vampires (called a Coven here for some damn reason or another) gains some benefits from hunting on its home turf. These packs jostle for position and influence. Really old and powerful vampires tend to have sway over these groups, but they really don't like each other, seeing their peers as rivals. Is any of this new and interesting yet? Other then that, there isn't much social structure. Vampires don't have an overarching set of Rules or anything like that, with power being literally "who controls the most territory and has the most power". It's pretty thin really. Not a lot of meat on dem bones.

The actual rules are very, very simple: If you can do it, do it, or if in a combat scene, if you declare it, and no one can oppose you (usually via Power use), you can do it. Participants are ranked according to a calculated Reaction Speed stat, but that's it. If I say I can hit Bob, and Bob doesn't have a dodge or countering power, Bob gets hit. Actions are declared in reverse Reaction Speed order, with slower participants declaring first and faster ones declaring after. Resolution is in Reaction Speed order, of course, and any actions that become invalid due to previous actions are just nullified and not done. If a participant can take multiple actions, these are done after the first set, declared and resolved as above. For example, let's take Alice and Bob and Chris. Alice has a Reaction Speed of 1, Bob has 3, and Cindy has 4. Bob can take two actions. A round goes like this. Alice declares, Bob declares, Cindy declares. Cindy acts, Bob acts, Alice acts. Bob declares. Bob acts. Next round. Powers can heavily modify Reaction Speed, number of actions, and being able to move out of the way of something or shield it, or "act before someone, even if Reaction Speed says otherwise". It's not a terrible system, but slower folk are almost always going to end up "not doing the thing" because people who go before them will nullify so much. It will also rely heavily on Referee fiat to resolve nebulous things. I haven't seen it used, but the system leaves me feeling somewhat concerned about balance. I don't like it is what I'm saying here. Damage comes in 3 Flavors: Normal, Execrated (supernatural), and Consecrated (Supernatural, but also antithetical to vampires specifically). Normal and Execrated are listed as flat numbers, Consecrated tends to be in "Percentage of DDP". Powers let you deal or absorb or heal Damage from various sources, and combat seems like it's pretty lethal, even for fairly high DPP vampires. Indirectly, this would enforce a paradigm of "talk before fight". I don't think it was intentional, but uh, that's probably good for a salon LARP.

The absolute worst thing about this is the attitude that exudes from the pages. From the back cover to the last page, the author (Patrick Ellison) seems to think he is causing a revolution in gaming, rather than a failed attempt at an evolution. From the back cover: "An alternative live-acton vampire system designed specifically for live action roleplaying. This is not a clumsy adaptation of a table top game. In opposition to the gross commercialization (wait, SERIOUSLY? Dude, what are you smoking, because I want some) of roleplaying games, Shades of Nightfall is complete in this book; there are no other supplements needed to become a vampire in the world of Dark Reality" It's amazing how much purple shines through that prose given it's red text on black. Someone thought they were really Sticking It To The Man with this one, eh? Which is hilarious given that the whole schtick (ha!) of White Wolf was that THEY were sticking to the Man (of TSR and Games Workshop and such). The whole book is full of these little jabs and it's really freakin' annoying. In the words of the late Han Solo "Great kid, don't get cocky."

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 3 Frowny Faces. It's bad enough that your reaction to a somewhat clunky tabletop adaptation was basically "Marshal Fiat, but with lists of powers", but forcing me to read THREE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY FIVE power descriptions in a book saturated with smugness really chaps my ass. I actually DO recommend people read it, but I DON'T recommend anyone go out of their way to buy it. Truly a monument to one man's hubris this is, but even so I grudgingly give some credit: Mr. Ellison had a vision and pushed it out into the world, which is more than I've done, and he did it in a time when small print runs you could get online were even  a thing. Other then that, Mr. Ellison, you are bad and you should feel bad. Get down off your high horse and maybe think before you write next time. Oh. Oh no. Another book in this series was published apparently. Shades of Divinity, covering Fallen Angels. I AM NOT PREPARED!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Kotas Reviews Lowrey's Bacon Curls MIcrowave Pork Rinds

Ugh, I'm still recovering from my month long birthday and office move hangover, and thus I haven't reviewed anything in weeks. That's okay though, I knew it was gonna be a tough month. Of course, when I'm hung over there are few things more comforting and less healthy for you than gas station pork rinds, am I right? But how can I get that feeling without even leaving home? Ladies and Gentlemen, today we review Lowrey's Bacon Curls Microwave Pork Rinds

You know damn right!
Not gonna lie, I actually really like pork rinds. They are basically bacon chips and my favorite flavor is barbecue, but I ain't that picky. They are also (relatively) low in calories, though all of those calories are fat. They have a bad rep in foodie circles, but I still like them occasionally. Still, I've certainly never said to myself "You know, these are great, but wouldn't they be better if I prepared them at home?" So it came as quite the surprise when a giant fuckin' box appeared on my doorstep shortly after my birthday and had THESE inside! 

I can honestly say that it never even occurred to me that such a thing could exist, let alone be sold in a giant multi-pack like these. Lowrey's is a sub-brand of the Oberto Beef Jerky folk, and they have been around since at least 2009, according to one taste test I found online after a quick search. Who knew, right? Anyway, the instructions are basically "Put it in the microwave for around a minute, stopping it when the bag finishes expanding." Naturally, I did exactly that. It has a disturbing sizzle during the cooking process and the bag does inflate. The odor of cooking isn't "fish in the microwave" bad, but it's not amazing either. Let's rip it open!

Yup, those are pork rinds
 Straight from the bag, these are most definitely pork rinds. The vast majority were nice and warm and airy, though a few were denser, and a couple which I figure are the pork rind equivalent of unpopped kernels of popcorn were small, dense, and mostly inedible. The taste is that of a pork rind, vaguely bacony pork flavor, with a nice hot spice applied to it and some vaguely Cajun-esque spices to go with the heat. They ain't bad, is what I'm saying. Still, for such a weird product they are essentially just pork rinds and not particularly fine ones at that. Tasty, but nothing special.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 1 Smiley Face. The novelty of their preparation falls away quickly, leaving them to stand on their mostly average flavor. If you like pork rinds in general, you will probably like these, but unless novel cooking methods fascinate you, you can safely skip these. I will finish the box though!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Kotas Reviews Bang Black Cherry Vanilla

Well, it's been a loooong while since I posted something, because of a wide variety of things that have impeded my time. Still, it is my fondest hope that it is all behind me and I can start anew! So of course I had to have an energy drink for all of this. Lo and behold, Bang once again rears its chemical head. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's have a gander at Bang Black Cherry Vanilla.

The color scheme is on point at least.
Who would have ever thought a product most certainly not named after a They Might Be Giants song would warrant three separate reviews, eh? Not this little reviewer, that's for sure. Still, I bought multiple cans initially and they all had to get used at some point. Might as well be now. After the last review of Bang's products, this one is pretty mundane. Logo prominently placed, color scheme isn't jarring. The flavor name is actually a flavor that can be identified. This whole thing is a big step up from Rainbow Unicorn. Let's crack it open.

Still clear for reasons I cannot understand
Well, not much to say here. The beverage is still clear as glass. I get it was probably never envisioned as being consumed outside the can, but even Red Bull has SOME color to it when you pour it out. The fact that it is clear just bugs me on some sort of fundamental level. The scent is super artificial cherry with some vanilla extract overtones, and the taste itself backs that play with a vengeance. Further, the aftertaste is that bizarre chemical flavor that almost all 'energy drinks" have at least some of, but man is it strong. It is much more tart than many "cherry" flavored drinks, and it has some sort of awful artificial sweetener in it. I'll give it this though, it tastes mostly like what it says it tastes like. It will still give your body a kick in the teeth and wake you up, but not in a good way. 

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 1 Frowny Face. It's not good exactly, but it is pretty much what it says it is. If I were desperate to wake up, pounding down one of these isn't the worst way to pep yourself up, but I would probably pick something else if I could. If you are curious, pick one up, but it's not worth going out of your way for.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Kotas Reviews Mexican Jalepeno Peanut M&Ms

I suppose some people never learn a lesson. No matter how much you try and teach them a thing, all you get is a vague nod and then six months later they do the exact same thing wrong, again. One can only shake one's head at it, and either give up, or try again, hoping for a different outcome. Well call me stupid, because here I go again. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's dive in to Mexican Jalepeno M&Ms.

Thanks, I hate it.
This is not the first time Mars has come out with a spicy peanut M&M, but I guess it's been three years and they needed something as filler for their latest promotion, which is "International" flavors. Now, jalepenos make sense here, because they are widely grown in Mexico, and can be used in a lot of traditional Mexican cuisine. But...really? Just Yellow holding a bunch of peppers in a sombrero? Where's the Mexican flag? The package is green, sure, I get it, but...this is it? The art is very disappointing is what I'm saying. I don't even get the color scheme they went with: red and green for the peppers, sure. But...why yellow? Because it is the 'famous' peanut M&M? White would have been MUCH better to really hammer home the International theme as those would be the colors of the Mexican flag. This just screams of laziness. Oh well, maybe it'll taste good. 

This is just sad.
Well, it looks like M&Ms. So that's cool, I guess. Why the hell are we using Peanut M&Ms for this? The flavor is just like it was with the Chili Nut M&Ms: Peanut M&M, then hot. I thought I maybe got the barest hint of jalepeno-esque flavor at one point, but I think I can chalk that up to wishful thinking. There's nothing Jalepeno about this, it's just the same old crap repackaged in slapdash "international" packaging. I don't really see the appeal of mass produced chocolate and "burning", but I guess I don't understand marketing.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 1 Frowny Face. I don't get why these needed to exist, but I gather they needed something for their dumb ass promotion and slapped this together in about 3 days. Don't buy these, don't bother with these. If you really need spicy chocolate and nuts, sprinkle some cayanne pepper on a Mr. Goodbar and save yourself some trouble. They ain't paying me enough for this job.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Kotas Reviews Bang Rainbow Unicorn Energy Drink

It hasn't been that long since my last review of Bang products, but I had a moment of weakness after a very rough day and needed a serious pick me up. Lo and behold, I found that Bang was there for me. Or, was it? Perhaps it was simply a gateway to strange and twisted vistas, where dark presences lurk and wait for us to blindly stumble past them unaware, disdainfully gazing upon our forms with all the contempt one summons for the insect that buzzes your ear. Or maybe I was just really, really tired. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's take a look at Bang Rainbow Unicorn.

Why the fuck is this named Rainbow Unicorn? As I've stated before many energy drinks have odd names that only vaguely relate to what they actually taste like, but this one really pulls out all the stops and just straight up won't tell you what it tastes like. "What flavor is this?" "Mythical Animal". "No really, what flavor is this" *raised middle fingers*. If there was any whimsy that could be injected into this in the name of having something "cute" I could almost understand it, but there's nothing whimsical about this at all. The can isn't even RAINBOW COLORED! What is it about this drink that I am supposed to glean? Eh, fuck it. Let's open it up.

Once again the drink is straight up clear, further emphasizing how far away from anything resembling normal drink this is. A clear medium through which flavors are communicated is the clearest sign of Chemical Magic occurring, and is never something to be taken lightly. Also, where is my GOD DAMN WHIMSY? Ugh, can you lose Sanity from consuming a drink? WELL I GUESS WE'RE ABOUT TO FUCKIN' FIND OUT.

Oh god, it tastes like the blood of Care Bears. So sickeningly sweet and cloying, yet also completely mishmashed as a concept! The primary flavor is "artificial watermelon", but it is cojoined in an awful way with "artificial bubblegum" flavoring. No, not "Watermelon Bubblegum", but "Watermelon AND Bubblegum simultaneously". If you cannot tell the difference, that's probably a good sign, given that I may have been driven to madness by this eldritch drink. I'll say this though, if you can choke it down, it will put a bit of pep in your step. I don't know that it's worth the journey, but the destination could be worse. 

On the Face Rating System, this gets 3 Frownie Faces. If you feasted on the entrails of a Popple, or maybe just ate a Snork whole, this is the flavor of the juice that would drip off your chin. Stay the hell away if you value your taste buds. 

Friday, April 26, 2019

Kotas Reviews Buffalo Wing Cheez-Its

More and more flavors just keep showing up in random places, and in ways I never expected. If you told me five years ago that I would one day be eating electric potato chips I'd have called you mad. But, here we are in this timeline and not another more different timeline where those chips don't exist. So of course we're gonna look at Cheez-Its now. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's take a gander at Buffalo Wing Cheez-Its.

100% Real Advertising
Cheez-Its are one of those snacks that has just always been around. Introduced in 1921 by the Green & Green company, and now a part of Kellogg under its Sunshine Biscuits subsidiary, Cheez Its were always the comfort food of my mother. Growing up they were always around my house, but since I'm not a fan of cheese crackers in general, they aren't something I eat very often. A saltier, slightly greasier variant of the Goldfish, they just never did anything for me. I'd eat a few if I had nothing else to snack on and just couldn't wait, but other then that? Incredibly meh. Like Funyuns. Have you ever seen anyone actually BUY Funyuns who wasn't being affected by a mind altering substance? I haven't, and yet somehow I keep seeing them on the store shelves, and you know, I'll have a few if the bag is there, open, and there isn't anything else there. Suffice it to say, these ain't thrillin' me generally. Let's see what we've got. 

Well, this is certainly a Cheez It box. The art here isn't particularly interesting, but it does communicate the new flavor and has a picture of that flavor on it. The edge of the black square being similar to a Cheez It is also a nice touch. I do wonder at the choice of flavors though. When I think "buffalo wing" I have never really thought of it in the context of cheese, other than blue cheese, and let me tell you, Cheez Its aren't even remotely related to blue cheese, despite the shared idea of cheese. Let's crack it open.

Yeah, these aren't terribly exciting out of the box either. The pic above is a little washed out, but they just look like Cheez Its with a slightly redder bit of flavor dust on them. Very hum drum. The flavor though? Well, let's just say I was very surprised. These have a really nice vinegar buffalo wing sauce taste, though without the giant hit of peppery heat that usually accompanies wing sauce. There is a touch of heat, sure, but it isn't the primary component and is more of a "oh, right, this is supposed to be buffalo wing flavor" afterthought. What they don't really taste like is a Cheez It. The cheese base of the cracker is almost completely muted in this particular outing, which is actually a good thing for me, but probably not to Cheez It fans. Definitely a surprise!

On the FACE Rating System, these get 1 Smiley Face. If I am ever in the mood for a strongly flavored snacking cracker, these are up there on my list. However, they are still Cheez Its and thus not completely amazing, and a true Cheez It fan won't find much here to recommend unless they are also fans of "not hot, vinegary, buffalo wing sauce". Definitely give them a try, but be warned these aren't really for everyone.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Kotas Reviews Bang Cotton Candy Energy Drink

When I was a younger man, I used to partake of energy drinks on a semi-regular basis. It was never a daily thing, but I would indulge in a Red Bull to get through a long night, and eventually settled on Rockstar as my preferred brand of self punishment. I can understand that some people enjoy the flavor, but none of them have resonated with me as being "good". Still, manufacturers keep trying to do this for a variety of reasons. HOWEVER, when you get asked specifically to review a product by a friend? Oh, this is gonna be a heck of a ride. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's take a look at Bang Cotton Candy.

More like "Wang" amirite? No? Just me then? Crap.
Honestly, I had never heard of the Bang brand of "brain and body fuel" until last month, when someone said I had to try the Cotton Candy flavored version. They even brought me a can! Well, how can one say no to that sort of prodding? Anyway, I have never found energy drinks to taste "good", but I can appreciate the unique and charming flavor that many seem to have. It's also weird that Bang has a recognizable flavor name, unlike "Zero Silver Ice", "Juiced" and "Recovery Grape". The can is a nice black and pink, with the brand and flavor name front and center. It also has Super Creatine written on it. I'm sure that's fine. Let's open it up.

Kind of anticlimactic really
So, this stuff smells a LOT like cotton candy flavoring, but it has the super chemical overtone of sucralose, which makes sense since this is sweetened with it. The fact that it is clear very much disturbs me, since I figured it would be at least a little pink. This kinda blows my mind, but I've not let common sense dictate my drinking since...a while. Down the fuckin' hatch. Dear lord, this is sickeningly sweet. The cotton candy flavor is definitely front and center, but it also tastes like what I imagine the mop water of a chemical factory tastes like: weird and off putting. There's a bitterness and a "chemical" essence that melds with the cotton candy. If you could spin artificial sweetener into cotton candy, this is exactly how I imagine it would taste. 

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 1 Frowny Face. It's not poison, and it does resemble what it claims to resemble, but whatever else they put in here (I'm looking at YOU Super Creatine) had to have come from an Erlenmeyer flask to make it this Not Good. Even if you like energy drinks as a flavor, the sickeningly sweet cotton candy + Du Pont notes may put you off. Try it if you must, but don't say I didn't warn you.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Kotas Reviews Sailor Boy Pilot Bread

There are those among my friends and acquaintances who would call me a gourmand. After all, this blog is proof that I go out of my way to sample new and interesting (if not always tasty) foodstuffs. Unfortunately for them, I cannot state that I am. While I might in fact be a foodie, albeit one with a very warped sense of what consists of "food", my palate is about as refined as plywood. So what better way to put all this to the test than to sample some fuckin' hard tack? Ladies and Gentlemen, let's take a look at Sailor Boy Pilot Bread.

He's very jaunty, that Sailor Boy.
So, I love crackers. Wheat, oyster, buttered, water, or saltine I am a huge fan of most forms of cracker. This probably stems from my adoration of bread, but I love crackers. One type I've never tried, mostly because why would any sane person desire it, is the humble hard tack biscuit. A very simple product made of flour, salt, and a touch of water, then baked hard to serve as a source of stored calories for soldiers and sailors, hard tack was one of the first formalized forms of rations for various wars in the past. Civil War enthusiasts make it for various reenactments, but since the military switched over to canning it hasn't been too popular. It is noted for its extremely long shelf life, durability, and difficulty in eating. What it is not known for is flavor. Well, occasionally I get interested in "old timey" stuff (curse you Jas Townsend & Sons) and saw a bit about hard tack. Now, I'm a lazy man at heart, so I went looking around for some to buy. Lo and behold, Sailor Boy Pilot Bread came up as one of the only commercially available hard tack esque product around. And hey, it's on Amazon! So I ended up buying a 2 pound box. The artwork is delightfully "retro". I'm sure it's fine. Let's see what they look like!

With peanut butter jar lid for scale.
Well, look at those beauties! These things are quite sizable and thick, much thicker than things I normally consider to be crackers. They are slightly greasy to the touch too, probably because of the palm oil used to make them. Historical side note, oil in hard tack isn't really a thing, but these are not exactly authentic hard tack. Still, they do maintain some of the properties of such, like long shelf life, and durability. However, the real question is: how do they taste? The answer might shock you!

Well, probably not. They taste a lot like unsalted crackers. It's nothing to write home about, but they are decent enough crackers if you like something more substantial than saltines. They go well with soups and stews, and can add body when broken into smaller pieces. Bland, but fairly nourishing, with each cracker weighing in at a hefty 100 calories each. I can see why survival minded folk would like having these around. 

On the FACE Rating System, these get 1 Smiley Face. I do actually like the flavor, but most of that is my rampant bread lust shining through, as these have a much more breadlike flavor than most crackers to me. They aren't anything more than they seem to be, and that suits me just fine. Give 'em a try if you get a chance, but don't go crazy. They will keep a very long time, so they would be great in as part of a flood or tornado kit. Also good for warding away Wendigos, or so I've heard. Anyone else feeling a bit peckish all of a sudden?

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Kotas Reviews Simple Truth Natural Turkey Burgers

We live in a modern age full of modern conveniences, especially when it comes to food. Electric powered ovens and stoves help us cook food we store in our refrigerators, or we can simply summon a car with a driver to deliver unto us whatever food we desire (at least so long as they have an UberEats arrangement). Truly, we live in a world where more good food is available than any one person could possibly eat. So let's look at some of that convenience food. Ladies and Gentlemen, we take a look at Simple Truth Natural Turkey Burgers.

It's the Simple Truth, this is a box from my freezer.
It's not exactly a secret that I am not the best at cooking preparation. How I long for the extravagance of having a prep chef available for when I decide I feel like cooking something that involves more than "open bag, add to boiling water, drain and serve". Still, I do enjoy grilling and I also enjoy burgers of many variations. My spouse and I have also had good success using chicken burgers from this same brand, so when we accidentally picked up these instead we figured we would be just fine. 

Simple Truth is the brand name for the Krogers in-house brand of organic grocery products. Yeah, yeah I know "organic" is just a marketing label, but many of their foods are actually fairly tasty, like the aforementioned chicken burgers so we keep some of them in the house. The packaging makes the patty look to be pretty good, though I have no idea what the hell it is supposed to be resting on. Is that pimento cheese? Bleah! Anyway, I cracked the box.

Yeah, those are frozen ground meat patties alright. Into the pan they go! They acted pretty much like any other pre-made frozen meat patty, so I'll skip the details, but they done cooked up right pretty. We also added some Worcestershire sauce for a bit of extra flavor. Let's put it on a bun!

Yeah, that's a burger. With ketchup and mustard no less.
 When I bit into my burger, something was off, but I couldn't quite place it. Was it the texture? No, the patty was nice and well done without being dry. The scent? Well, turkey isn't known for its heavy odor, so that wasn't it. It took me a few more bites, but I finally figured out what was wrong: the patty itself had exactly ZERO flavor. Literally all I could taste was the bun and the smear of condiments I had placed upon it. There was no turkey flavor at all. At first I thought it was me, so I asked my spouse what hers tasted like. She thought for a minute and said "Oh. Nothing. Weird." As a final, somewhat icky test, I found a bit of protein juice that leaked out of the patty and cooked up in the hot pan. On a chicken burger, this stuff has an incredibly strong chicken flavor if you eat it (or so I've heard *cough*). For this patty? It was like chewing paste. No flavor at all. What the ever-loving shit is this trash?

On the FACE Rating System, these get 3 Frowny Faces. How the hell do you fuck up a meat patty? Apparently by draining every iota of taste out of it. If there was a white can just labeled "FOOD", this is how I would expect it to taste. Hardtack has a more nuanced flavor profile than this garbage. Stay the hell away!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Kotas Reviews Orange Vanilla Coca Cola

There are a pile of flavored sodas on the market. From the ignoble beginnings of Fanta (seriously, go look this up) to the plain weirdness of Jones Soda, there are beau-coup varieties of soda flavors available to the average consumer. Only rarely does the introduction of a flavor shake up the market, usually coming from one of the two 800 pound rhinos in the market: Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Cherry Coke ushered in the "cola with fruit flavor" soda as a type in the 80s and Pepsi Twist started the "cola flavored with citrus" craze of the mid-2000s, so they tend to have an out sized impact. Anyway, that's a lot of lead up for me to tell you that we're looking at Yet Another Cola With Additional Flavor product. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's take a look at Orange Vanilla Coca-Cola.

I'm not sure why Coca-Cola needed an Orange Vanilla flavored version, honestly. I have always enjoyed Coca-Cola, though these days it is more of a "once a week" thing than a "once a meal" thing as it was in my younger days. As a wee lad I enjoyed Cherry Coke more than perhaps was healthy, so I have experience with "cola + fruit" sodas. Orange Vanilla though, I'm not sure about. Vanilla and Cola is pretty tasty, but nothing I would go out of my way to get. Orange and cola is not a combo I would have ever thought might be good. Still, citrus flavors do compliment Coca-Cola pretty well so maybe it will be fine? Let's open it up!

I'm not sure what you were expecting.
Yep. It's a cola, which means it is a very dark liquid. Nothing too surprising here. The scent is a nice strong orange scent with hints of cola and a creaminess I assume is the vanilla peeking through. It's a pleasant scent that I wouldn't mind having as an air freshener in my car. Let's drink it up! The flavor is almost an inversion of the scent. The cola flavor is very strong, with a bit of orange flavor and a creaminess associated with vanilla that smooths out the whole thing, though definitely less vanilla-y than Coke with Vanilla. It's a nice little flavor, but it's not that much different from regular Coke. It's fine is what I'm saying.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 0 Faces. It tastes fine, but it isn't a strong flavor nor particularly interesting. If someone hands me this, or I accidentally get one instead of a regular Coke I will happily drink it, but I ain't beating down a door to get this specific flavor. Try some at your local gas station today!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Kotas Reviews Flamin' Hot Dill Pickle Remix Lay's

This job hobby glorious sideshow that I call a blog has brought me to lots of strange places over the years. From float tanks to plays about abstract art, my desire for tens of fans has presented me with numerous unusual situations. Though, if I'm honest, most of those experiences have been in the grocery store picking out weird ass food flavors. Today is not going to be an exception, and hoo boy, the folks down at Lay's are really smokin' up lately. Ladies and Gentleman, today we dig into Flamin' Hot Dill Pickle Remix Lay's.

What is even happening now?
Man, this bag looks like the late 80s exploded all over it. Hot neon pink highlights, ridiculous font choices that vary between words, use of the word "remix" in a non-musical context, this packaging has it all. It even has accurate pictures of both the flavor items AND the final product! Rad I tell you! Now, if you are a regular reader of this blog, as I know both of you are, you will know that when it comes to spicy snacks, I want more than just heat. There has to be flavor too. The "Flamin' Hot" sub-brand is very hit or miss when it comes to these, but the addition of dill pickle seems...very strange. It's not like Dill Pickle is a flavor that most people want to eat. I mean, I do, but I a damn Internet Weirdo so I don't think I am representative of most people. Still, they keep makin' 'em so someone's gotta be eatin' 'em. I must admit I am dubious of the validity of this flavor combination, but here we are. Let's eat.

Flavor Dust Storms are a real problem on Planet Novelty
Yeah, the chips are just reddish, as is expected from something labeled "Flamin' Hot". It is however not quite as red I as I would expect. The scent is heavy on the dill and 'spice' notes, that sends little burning sensations up the nostrils. I'm sure it's fine. They taste like Dill Pickle chips with a lot of heat added to them. The combination works surprisingly well really. The dill pickle flavor is strong but not overwhelming and the spice is heavy but does not subsume the dill pickle. The potato flavor is there too, though much muted compared to the other two strong flavors. I wouldn't have thought that "spicy dill pickle" would be a chip flavor I would enjoy but once again Food Science has humbled me.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 2 Smiley Faces. They aren't amazingly good, but they are a fine chip to have when you want something spicy and savory. The dill pickle/heat combo is excellent, but it isn't something I would want to eat all the time. If you like dill pickle chips and spicy snacks, treat yourself to these before they are out of stores. However if you dislike either of those, this combination will only have you sad and burning.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Kotas Reviews Captain Marvel

Well, it's been a loooong time since I've written about Marvel Movies, hasn't it? To be fair, it's been a long time since I've seen a Marvel Movie when it was actually relevant to the current popular cultural scene. Still, I had to make some time for this one, for reasons that will probably become clear soon enough. Ladies and Gentlemen, children of some ages, let's take a look at Disney's Captain Marvel.

Buy the trade now on Amazon!
Even by Comic Book standards, the history of Captain Marvel is convoluted as hell, even if we keep that history focused solely on Carol Danvers. The original Captain Marvel, the Kree agent turned Protector of the Universe Mar-Vell, was long gone by the time I got sucked into comics as a wee lad. I grew up on the Monica Rambeau version a.k.a. Photon a.k.a. Spectrum. Still, the legacy of Mar-Vell touched a large part of the Marvel Cosmic Mythology and was a direct influence on my personal favorite cosmic hero, Quasar. Who also has a convoluted backstory and weird history for a dude who started off as a Take That version of Hal Jordan. No less than seven different characters have held the title of Captain Marvel, and at least two of them have also been Quasar at one point or another. Carol herself has had 3 previous superhero identities before taking on the mantle of Captain Marvel in the comics: Ms. Marvel, Binary, and Warbird. Her powers have been granted, taken away, super charged, altered entirely, and then melded together. Why, it's almost like comic books are weird! So, knowing all of that weirdness, how can a movie possibly try and reconcile all of that? In short, it doesn't, and that's a good thing. There will be a few spoilers below, so skip to the final paragraph for the FACE Rating and my overall thoughts.

The choice to start with Vers on Hala and then slowly introduce the bits and pieces that eventually make up Carol Danvers ends up being a great storytelling device, but it sure seems a bit disjointed at the beginning. Luckily, once the action shifts to Earth, the character development and chemistry between all the primary cast members really gels, particularly when the movie becomes a buddy cop film between Samuel Jackson's Nick Fury and Brie Larson's Vers. Those two bring a wonderful dynamic to the film that is absolutely a delight to watch. Larson has good chemistry with Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau too, which really helps sell some of the more interesting character moments. Larson's confident, no bullshit attitude when it comes to fighting the bad guys is also great, as is the sheer joy she takes in her powers. They aren't a curse, they are a gift and there is little angst to be found about it as she whoops and hollers her way through a bunch of battle cruisers in the climatic space battle. The trademark Marvel comedy is here in spades, and everyone gets in on the act. There is also a cat named Goose and a Fonz lunchbox that both serve similar purposes in the film at one point or another.

As a complete Marvel Nerd, I deeply appreciated all the nods at the many other Captain Marvels in comic history that showed up in this film. The Kree uniform she starts out in is a tribute to the original comic suit of Mar-Vell, Maria Rambeau's pilot handle of "Photon", as well as the fact that her daughter's name is Monica, are both tributes to the Monica Rambeau incarnation. During a sequence where Carol and Monica are updating the look of her costume, several of the rejected outfits reference the other Marvel er, Marvels, and there's even a blink and you'll miss it bit of shade thrown at DC's Captain Marvel/Shazam, as the costume takes on his traditional colors and it is rejected with a "...Naaaaaah". I acknowledge my deep nerdiness here, so just bear with me. Oh, and the CGI that made "Young" Nick Fury is top notch. The CGI on Goose...less so.

Unfortunately there are some parts of this film that do not work super well. As I stated before, the opening is a bit disjointed in the storytelling. The antagonists are the blandest of the bland, such that none of them stand out too much. Talos and Yon-Rogg are about the only aliens of interest on any side, and even they tend to be fairly generic as they toss the Villain Ball back and forth a few times. The Supreme Intelligence is made of dull and is just super meh in my opinion. Mar-Vell, for all five minutes she's in the film, is great but super under utilized. The origin of Danvers' powers makes the Tesseract/Space Stone the Infinity Stone with the most possible users and people affected by it. It really gets around, don't it? 

On the FACE Rating System, I give Captain Marvel 3 Smiley Faces. I love cosmic Marvel stuff and this movie is right up my damn alley, however it definitely follows a formula and has its flaws. When you have villains like the Vulture and Killmonger being so damn interesting, only to follow those up with some bog standard boring ones, it's a little bit of a let down, but the character bits between the good guys more than make up for that. Other people will probably rate this movie lower than I will, but I acknowledge my Carol Danvers bias. Go out and see it!